‘Wild man’ with 31 charges given chance after court hears he has changed

February 29, 2024

A Letterkenny man has been given a suspended jail sentence after appearing in court on 31 charges stretching back to as far as 2010.

Patrick McCafferty appeared at Buncrana District Court sitting at Letterkenny Courthouse before Judge Eiteain Cunningham.

Many of the litany of charges were brought under the Public Order Act after the now 44-year-old accused man was drunk.

As well as being arrested for being drunk and disorderly, McCafferty’s other charges included the theft of eight cans of beer, the theft of a portable radio, trespassing, possession of a knife and a number of charges relating to not appearing in court which resulted in bench warrants being issued for his appearance.

The court was told that McCafferty had no other previous convictions before the lengthy list of charges were produced.

Garda Sergeant Maurice Doyle took a considerable period of time to read out all the details of the charges before the court.

The charges range in dates from 2010 to 2019.

The accused man, with an address at Riverside Apartments at Pearse Road in Letterkenny, was represented in court by solicitor Mr Frank Dorrian.

Mr Dorrian outlined his client’s circumstances and detailed how McCafferty had suffered for undiagnosed mental health issues for a number of years.

He said his client was seen as a “wild man around town” but this was as a result of pursuing an agenda which he himself didn’t understand.

Mr Dorrian addressed the various charges and explained he was sleeping in the stairwell of an apartment block which he had previously been allowed to stay in.

In relation to a charge of possession of a knife, the solicitor explained this was as a result of people making fun of his client and described it as “a lame enough defence mechanism” and that “he never intended to visit any violence on them.”

He said the consumption of alcohol coupled with his mental health issues had left McCafferty in various states of disarray around the town where he was rambling and shouting at the public for no apparent reason.

However, Mr Dorrian added that his client had presented in court in a docile manner and was in a normal frame of mind and that there was no question over his “cognitive ability.”

The court heard that the accused man was now receiving monthly injections for suspected Schizophrenia and this had had a hugely positive and calming effect on him.

He had obtained housing from the council and he now spent his days tidying his home, watching television and was now something of a recluse.

The Gardai had also confirmed that McCafferty had not come to their attention since he had been last arrested in 2019.

“He was under such a cloud of difficulty but he has come a long way and is as placid and gentle person as you could meet and bears no ill will,” added Mr Dorrian.

Judge Cunningham asked for some time to read medical reports and consider her judgement.

When she returned, she said she had observed Mr McCafferty over his two days in court and that “he seems to be in a much better place.”

She accepted he has had his difficulties over a period of years and they were mostly as a result of mental health issues and his addiction to alcohol.

However, she said he had made “significant strides” through getting accommodation and having monthly injections.

She also said she was impressed by the fact that he had not come to Garda attention in recent years.

She sentenced McCafferty to six months in prison but suspended that sentence for 18 months on condition that he be of good behaviour and does not reoffend.

As he signed his bond, Judge Cunningham encouraged McCafferty to continue with his medication and his efforts.